Met een elektrische auto op vakantie? In de meeste gevallen is dat tegenwoordig geen uitdaging meer. Onze EV-experts zijn al een keer met de Hyundai Kona Electric en Tesla Model 3 op vakantie naar het buitenland geweest. Toch kan de reis naar het buitenland met een EV ook nog weleens iets anders lopen dan van te voren gepland. Daarom willen wij de ervaring van deze elektrische rijder toch graag met jullie delen. Veel leesplezier!
On holiday with an electric car
“Never go to a charging station on the Place de la Comedie. That was the first lesson on Day 1 of our Excellent Electric Trip. We set off Saturday morning with a car full of gear, two dogs, and good spirits. We arrived in Langres, near Dijon, with the same car full of gear. The dogs had been dropped at Doggy Wonderland. But our good spirits had taken a beating. Chalk it up to learning, we said.
All went well until we missed a fast charging station at one of those complicated french roundabouts. We decided we would just carry on to the next one. Famous last words. The charger at Place de la Comedie in Metz had been subsumed by a cute French Christmas market. Lesson number two was don’t leave the highway. An hour later we had returned to the high speed charger that we had missed, but of course all of the charging stations were occupied. We need to coin a word for “when one paces back and forth in front of cars that are 80% charged, trying to shame them into giving you their charger”. We did that until someone left, then we plugged in and had what my wifed called ’the worst dinner ever in France’ in a restaurant in the LeClerc shopping mall. Dommage, especially because we were on our way to a hotel that I had chosen specifically because of its renowned restaurant. We arrived at the hotel after the kitchen had closed. We laughed, sort of, and went to bed. At least we had figured out how it worked and Day 2 would be better!
Not. We woke up and for reasons unknown, the car had only charged halfway. No worries, we had more than enough to get to the fast charger on the highway. Once on the highway, we opted for the second charger on our route finder. We had more than enough juice to get there as well, and then with the fast charger at the second Aire (french rest stop), we’d have enough to make with only one more charge all the way to Italy. “It might be cutting it a bit close,” said the one. “It will be an adventure,” said the other. There is a difference between the kilometers that the auto says that it has left and actual performance, due to cold, speed, energy used for heating, etc. We thought we’d end with 30km to spare, but as we approached, the gap between the actual distance to the station and the distance on the teller was narrowing. As we pulled into the Aire, red lights on the dashboard were flashing. In the old days we would have said “riding on fumes” as the tank threatened empty. I was on the verge of hyperventilating and had resorted to my trusty 4:2:4:2 rhythmic breathing to cool my “range anxiety”. My wife was cool as a cucumber, training that she says she learned driving with her father in her youth. (Sadist that she is, she turned on the electric seats for the last kilometer, just to torture me). All’s well that ends well, we made it by the skin of our teeth!
Not. The fast charger at the recently rebranded TotalEnergies station had recently been removed. The slow charger in front of the Starbucks was out of order. TotalEnergies? Really? We found a regular old 230v electric outlet at the entrance to the gas station and plugged in: 36 hours until fully charged. My wife, Ms. Calm, Cool & Collected, arranged for a tow truck to take us off the highway to a nearby charger. The driver of the tow truck was about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, so it wasn’t a totally wasted day (said my cheerful wife). We learned that charger la voiture means to lift it up onto the tow truck, and recharger means what we got when he drove us 15km to the nearby LeClerc service station. That one was also a slow charger, and would require 6 hours to get a full charge. We loaded up 30 minutes of juice and then took off to the Lidl supermarket across town which had a fast charger. Great…now we’ll be on the road again in a jiffy.
Not. The Lidl charger was free, but only worked during store hours. Open Sunday morning until noon. Noon was long since past.
So we went to the next closest charging station at a nearby hotel. Super slow, 2,2 kW per hour, 24 hours for a full charge. The heck with that. Back to the LeClerc service station, 11 kW per hour, 6 hours for a full charge. We spent an hour (while I typed most of this letter) and then left with nearly 100km in the battery to go 64km to the fast charger on the highway. If we made it there, we would be good to get to Italy.
Hurray! We charged at every station the rest of the way (3x, 15 minutes each). We arrived at 22:30h, parked in the garage (where the nightwatch said I couldn’t charge because he was worried about the car exploding…really!?! For goodness sakes, Loraine! We’ll figure that out tomorrow), loaded our stuff onto the snowcat, and got shuttled up the mountain to our hotel. Total journey: 9:00h Saturday to 22:30h Sunday.
All really is well that ends well. We’re still laughing, although we’d appreciate not receiving replies or WhatsApp messages with “hahaha”. The tally is: 13 hours actually driving in the direction we were supposed to be going, a few hours each day driving around Metz and Beaume, a few hours with the driver of the tow truck, about four hours actually charging. Hopefully the ride home will be less eventful, and perhaps a tad faster now that we’ve figured out how to do it. Ha! Famous last words.”